Wright State may be the defending Horizon League champs with four returning starters, but that doesn’t mean the team won’t experience some dips along the way.
That was evident in an 86-51 win Wednesday over Notre Dame College. The Division-II squad from South Euclid, Ohio, trailed only 41-32 at halftime and had a 22-20 rebounding edge.
“It’s obviously a different team, different roles, different guys,” point guard Cole Gentry said. “That takes a little bit of an adjustment for everybody. I think it’ll come quickly here.
“Like you saw in the second half, we played a lot better than the first half. We kind of got settled in. Everyone is trying to find their niche, and once we figure that out, we’ll start rolling again.”
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For coach Scott Nagy, the difference was rebounding. The Raiders had a 45-35 advantage overall, and only two of nine offensive rebounds for the Falcons came after halftime.
“That’s why the spread was the way it was, because we decided to get physical and rebound,” he said.
Here’s what we learned from the game:
STAR OF THE GAME: Bill Wampler, a 6-foot-6 transfer from Drake, had a game-high 18 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with six.
Gentry also had a solid all-around game with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists with just one turnover in 26 minutes.
STARTING FIVE: The Raiders have made a change in their lineup from last year. Sophomore wing Jaylon Hall has replaced senior center Parker Ernsthausen, putting more athleticism on the floor.
Louden Love, Mark Hughes, Wampler and Gentry were the other starters.
Hall was involved in the most crowd-pleasing flurry of the night. He cleanly blocked a two-handed dunk attempt, and Hughes ended up with the ball in transition and skied for a jam over a Notre Dame player.
Ernsthausen, who started all 35 games last season, subbed with 16:25 left in the first half.
“Parker deserves to start. We really have six starters. But I talked to him about it this week, and he was like, ‘Whatever’s best for the team, coach.’ That’s the kind of guy Parker is,” Nagy said.
“But it just gives us flexibility with our substitution pattern. If Parker starts, we’ve got nothing but guards coming off the bench.”
NOT CLICKING: Love, a preseason first-team all-league selection, was limited by foul woes and finished with three points on 1-for-5 shooting.
“We’ve got some guys who aren’t playing with confidence already,” Nagy said. “Some of that stuff will get worked out, but Louden is struggling right now. He’s out of sorts. But I think he’ll calm down. We’ll shoot the ball better around him, which will take some of the focus off him.”
EARLY IMPACT: At least two freshmen could be part of the playing rotation. Skyelar Potter, a 6-3 guard, was the first sub after Ernsthausen and had 11 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Malachi Smith, another 6-3 guard, also played in the first half and had two points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
TREY TROUBLE: Nagy believes the Raiders need to make a big jump in 3-point shooting after connecting at only a 33.7-percent clip last season. They were a respectable 7-for-17 in the first half but finished 12-for-35.
“I would like to shoot 40 percent from 3. I don’t think 34 percent is going to get it done for us,” Nagy said.
EARFUL: The first of 12 Wright State coaches shows will be held Monday at Flyboys Deli in Fairfield Commons and will air on WONE (980-AM). Women’s coach Katrina Merriweather will take questions from 5:30-6 p.m. and Nagy from 6-7 p.m.
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